The Steel Market Development Institute’s (SMDI) Automotive Applications Council has conducted a lightweight steel twist beam study, which resulted in a significant mass reduction at a much lower cost compared to designs using alternative materials.
The selected ‘U-Beam’ design – based on a tubular shape using advanced steels – achieves a 30% mass reduction relative to the baseline assembly, at a modest 15% cost increase, considerably less than the cost of similar weight savings from materials like aluminum.
“With fuel economy regulations increasing rapidly, automakers are looking for every way they can to take weight out of vehicles,” said Ronald Krupitzer, vice president, automotive market, SMDI. “The lightweight steel twist beam project is a great example of how currently available advanced steel technologies enable aggressive weight savings in the vehicle’s suspension, thus enabling better fuel economy for the automaker and the consumer.”
The original objective of the project was to develop a lightweight steel twist beam that achieved 15 to 25% mass reduction, with equivalent performance to the baseline design and a lower or equivalent cost to alternative materials. A twist beam assembly in commercial use today was selected for the baseline packaging, performance, mass and cost.